by Jason Clark on December 3, 1999 9:32 PM EST
How does it work?
Well, it's quite simple actually. The shifter unit is a metal rod with a shifter knob attached to it. The shifter knob can actually be interchanged with real shifter knobs (i.e MOMO). The base of the shifter is plastic, but what isn't these days? Inside the shifter is a spring-driven mechanism that simulates real shifting force and gives the impression of syncronized gears. What I mean by that is, similar to when you shift from gear to gear in today's cars, the transmission actually guides you to each gear; granted you can still foul it up, but for the most part, it works. The shifter works with the ACT LABS Force RS and the Regular RS wheel. So, yes it's use is limited to those two wheels. The shifter comes with a cartridge holder which plugs into the RS wheel's engine system, this is a fantastic technology that allows the wheel to be used on both PC's and Console based systems. Unfortunately the RS shifter only works with console systems using the legacy HI-LOW mode, which is just due to the way the console button mapping works.

Game Support
As with many computer products, there is that ever-looming "support". Current support is a bit limited, but that cannot be helped as this device requires support from the game itself. I have put a list together of the games that it currently supports, and soon-to-be-released games that will have support.

Released Games Supporting The Shifter
Viper Racing
Sports Car GT
Rally Championship 2000
Spirit of Speed
Un-Released Games Supporting The Shifter
Ford Racing
Need For Speed Porsche Evolution
Need For Speed Motor City
Le Mans 24hr
Dirt Track Racing
Carmageddon TDR 2000

As mentioned earlier in the review, the shifter requires an ACT LABS wheel. Essentially, the shifter sits on a metal bar that fits in the wheel's clamping mechanism; and once you clamp the wheel down, the shifter is locked in. This works quite well - I didn't find any movement at all, other than me feverously shifting down when I realized I was doing 110mph while approaching a 90° bend :) The shifting in each gear is fluid and realistic. Reverse requires force to get into, just like in a real car. A handy feature of this shifter is the ability to be positioned on both the left and the right of the wheel, satisfying all drivers. Overall, a very well thought-out device that is easy to set up and does its job very, very well. Just a side note, the Force RS wheel now supports USB :)

Sure, I was, uhh, "testing" it :) Basically, I sat down for a couple of days and just played the games it supported. My favorite is the new, very, very cool "Rally Championship 2000" by Europress. This game really makes this shifter shine, with some of the rally cars using a 7-speed gear pattern. I can honestly say that I had much more fun playing these driving games with the shifter than I have ever had before. The amount of realism it brings to driving games is just fantastic.

ACT LABS has done it again. First, they won our force-feedback wheel round-up. NOW they have the first PC Shifting system! The RS Shifter is a new frontier in computer gaming. The realism it adds to the PC racing genre is phenomenal. Although there is a lack of games supporting the shifter right now, the list of titles that will have support is growing. This is one peripheral that will NOT be gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. So what's the next step? A clutch :)?

For excellence in gaming peripheral innovation, the ACT LABS RS Shifter is awarded the Silver Medal. Editor's Choice Award
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